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First Drive: Vauxhall Astra 1.6i Ultimate

The story:
Kia has revised its Sorento large 4x4 as it reaches the mid-point in its life cycle, with changes amounting to a new automatic gearbox and new trim levels.
Category:Lower Medium
Key rival:Ford Focus
Vauxhall Astra 1.6i Turbo 200hp Ultimate
Price:£26,665
MPG:42.8mpg
Emissions:151g/km
On sale:Now

The Ultimate is the new top-of-the-line version of the Astra lower-medium hatch. It is available with 150hp 1.4 and 200hp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engines, and the 160hp bi-turbo diesel. Prices range from £25,270-£27,770, while emissions range from the 126g/km of the diesel to the 151g/km for the 200hp petrol version driven here.

Vauxhall Astra 1.6 Turbo Ultimate - 2018 - Image 2As might be expected from the name, the Ultimate is well-loaded. It builds on the Elite Nav trim, adding LED matrix headlights, 18-inch bi-colour alloys, perforated leather sports front seats, tinted windows, LED rear lights, blind spot alert, park assist, rear camera and the Driving Assistance Pack. That brings the camera system which powers the forward-collision alert, traffic sign recognition, follow-distance indicator and lane-keep assist.

Otherwise the Astra remains as it was, just in a slightly classier form. That means it handles and drives better than previous versions of the Astra.

Vauxhall Astra 1.6 Turbo Ultimate - 2018 - Image 1The 200hp turbocharged petrol driven here is the least fleet-friendly at 151g/km – a 9g/km rise under the latest WLTP-related changes to emissions testing – but it’s a potent unit that has the ability to surprise, given the car doesn’t look like a performance model. But the Bi-Turbo is the best choice for company drivers.

The residual values stand up well, according to Kee Resources. They’re still only very high 20s, but some brands find that the most expensive models in a range suffer disproportionally in this regard. Fortunately, the Astra Ultimate successfully sidesteps this.

paul barker

The verdict

Appealing option for Vauxhall’s loyal customers in particular, and those looking for a high-spec value car.